What are the health risks you take when buying heavy metal low cost jewelry?

Updated on August 31, 2019

Buying low cost costume or fashion jewelry can be a great way to elevate your style on a budget. However, these low cost jewelry options can actually be harmful to your health. While you may think you are cutting costs by buying cheap fashion jewelry, you are actually spending more on your health. The risks of buying fashion jewelry might not be obvious, but many of these pieces are actually made from toxic metals.

Cadmium A Common Cheap Metal 

In the world of fast fashion, many manufacturers are looking for cheap ways to make jewelry that can be produced quickly and sell for much more than the price they are worth making. Cadmium is a cheap metal that is often used to make fashion jewelry especially imported jewelry. However, the health risks associated with long and prolonged exposure to this metal can be severe.

Although regulations are in place to reduce the amount of cadmium in children’s toy jewelry, the same regulations are not in place for adult jewelry. These regulations were put in place after a 2010 AP report found that many Chinese manufacturers were replacing lead in children’s toys and toy jewelry with cadmium after lead was banned. U.S. regulations stipulate that children’s jewelry cannot contain more than 0.03 percent of cadmium. However, these regulations were never in place for adult jewelry. According to another AP report, women’s fashion jewelry sold at several popular clothing stores were found to have high amounts of cadmium. Some pieces of jewelry were even made nearly of pure cadmium. The AP report tested about 31 pieces of jewelry from popular retailers and found that all contained 40% of cadmium and most were over 90% of cadmium. 

Following this report, many retailers pulled cadmium based products off their shelves. However, not all retailers followed. There are still many retailers that sell cheap jewelry made from high quantities of cadmium. 

There are no supported reports about whether just wearing cadmium or exposure to the metal through skin contact can be as toxic as ingesting or inhaling the toxic metal. Yet, because such jewelry is so cheaply made, small pieces are likely to break off, making it easier for young children or even adults to accidently swallow.

Cadmium is one of the most common forms of heavy metal poisoning. Over time cadmium can cause serious damage to kidneys and bones. Ingesting and breathing the heavy metal can lead to kidney dysfunction and osteoporosis according to the Center for Disease Control. Cadmium can also be found in tobacco products and most people are exposed to this toxic metal through cigarette smoke. 

Some immediate symptoms of cadmium poisoning include fever, breathing problems and muscle pain. However, most people might experience more prolonged symptoms and might not realize they have experienced heavy metal poisoning right away. 

Treatment and Prevention

If you think you may have cadmium poisoning you want to contact your doctor and get tested for heavy metal poisoning right away. Make sure as well to test your jewelry for cadmium and get rid of any pieces that have high amounts of the toxic metal. 

When shopping for fashion jewelry make sure to do your research and check the quality control of the retailers you are shopping with. Check recall lists for pieces that have been recalled for high amounts of cadmium.